Evacuated families fear being out of their homes at Christmas

Neighbours, the Defence Forces and local authority staff pull together to protect homes

Flooded fields and roads   along the Shannon:  more heavy rain is forecast to hit already devastated counties this weekend. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Flooded fields and roads along the Shannon: more heavy rain is forecast to hit already devastated counties this weekend. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Families evacuated from their Clare and Limerick homes, which were surrounded by floodwater, are fearful they will have to spend Christmas in hotels, as “a severe flood warning” was issued for the weekend.

In a show of community spirit, neighbours along with the Defence Forces, and local authority staff, came together to piles sandbags around hundreds of homes.

Farmer Mike Hannan has been helping to transport livestock from neighbouring farms in Clonlara worst hit by the floods on to higher ground. “I’m just taking the cattle out of here up on to higher ground. I’m grand, I’ve no problem. I’m up on top of the hill,” he said.

“It’s very serious. But there’s nothing that can be done,” he said.

“People are blaming the ESB, but in my view it isn’t the ESB’s fault. Water has to come down the Shannon.”

“There is great neighbourly spirit here. We’ll all help each other. It isn’t our first time doing it.”

Rise

Clare County Council

While a number of families have been evacuated from Springfield in Clonlara, more in the tiny rural community are now watching and waiting to see if the wall of sandbags around their homes will keep out the water.

Mother of four Liz Hogan, who was evacuated on a boat by Clare Civil Defence with three of her children this week, said she fears her family will “be in a hotel for Christmas”.

Ordeal

“At the moment we are apparently here until tonight and I was waiting for a phone call from the [council’s] housing department to see where we are going to go,” Ms Hogan said.

Her eldest son, Mark (18), is studying for his Leaving Certificate while her daughter Aoife (12) “just wants to be at home for Christmas”.

She said her son Sean (17), who is in fifth year, is distraught after his geography project was damaged as they were been evacuated. “Sean and Aoife’s school books got wrecked as well.” Ms Hogan’s eldest daughter, Sarah (26), has been staying with her grandmother.

The council issued a severe flood warning for all of Co Clare in advance of a potential period of heavy rainfall on Saturday. A combination of heavy rain and strong winds together with Spring tides “is likely to result in flooding in many areas”, the council stated.